Sonoma State University (SSU) started construction on a new home for its Wine Business Institute on June 1st. The $9.15 million Wine Spectator Learning Center—financed partly by a $3 million contribution from the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation—will become the institute’s new home when completed next summer.
Some 300 guests and dignitaries from the wine, education and political worlds gathered on the lawn of the Rohnert Park campus at SSU, which is part of the California State University system. “It’s a special privilege to be able to work with such a great institution,” Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator and Market Watch, told the crowd. “The wine industry is just now being born, getting started. The future needs and depends on institutions like this one to train and educate people to go into the wine industry.”
The Wine Spectator Learning Center will have nearly 15,000 square feet of space for instruction and student activities, including three advanced-technology classrooms, a student commons with space for collaboration and student-run businesses, and an industry center to accommodate professional and academic faculty and program leadership. The new facility will also have an international-themed garden and a café. The center will give the Wine Business Institute enhanced ability to host evening receptions, as well as offer students an opportunity to learn more about the hospitality side of the wine industry.
Founded in 1996, the Wine Business Institute was the first U.S. academic program to offer degrees in the business of wine. Students can work toward a Bachelor of Science in wine business strategies or a Master of Business Administration—the only wine MBA offered by a U.S. university. More than 600 people are enrolled annually in the institute’s wine business programs, including 40 undergraduates, 50 graduate students, over a hundred than 100 part-time online students and over 400 seminar attendees.
The Sonoma State University program is one of several supported by the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. The foundation has raised more than $20 million to support wine and food education over the past 30 years. Foundation beneficiaries have included students of the University of California at Davis’ Department of Viticulture & Enology, the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.